LUGALBANDA IN THE MOUNTAIN CAVE
Sumerian literary tradition states that Lugalbanda in his own right was a god-king of the city of Uruk. He is generally held to be Gilgamesh´s father, and according to the Sumerian Kings List ruled the city for no fewer than 1200 years. At the time of this adventure, nevertheless, he seems to have been a young officer in Enmerkar´s army commanding a division of Uruk´s troops. Again in this myth, we have Aratta as the city rival to Uruk, and a bizarre adventure that took place on the road from Uruk to Aratta.
The story tells us that halfway along the mountain road to Aratta, Lugalbanda was stricken with a strange overpowering fever that baffled his companions. The best they could do as his teeth chattered in the cold was to find him a dry cave to shelter in.
There Lugalbanda lay deeply unconscious for so long that his companions feared that he might pass away while they went in search for help. So they prepared the crude cave as if for a funeral, laying out food and drink in the traditional Sumerian manner and placing Lugalbanda´s weapons beside him. If he lived, so much the better: he would have sustenance to give him strength. If he died, he would do so with dignity among the funerary goods and his companions would retrieve his body on their return from the campaign. With tears and lamentations, they left him to his fate.
But Lugalbanda did not die. After days laying unconscious in a coma he awoke. He was still feverish, and his barren surroundings appalled him. Brought up in the rich cities of Mesopotamia, the hostile mountains seemed to him a place of horror, so he prayed to the Sun god Utu and his twin sister, Inanna, the Great Goddess of Love and War:" In the mountain cave, the most dreadful spot upon the Earth, let me be ill no longer! May my limbs do no perish in the mountains!"
Lugalbanda, nevertheless, needed not have feared for his life. Utu and Inanna heard his pleas, and as a sign sent him a complex dream, in which Lugalbanda found himself wandering through the mountains by moonlight. In this dream, the god Zangara came to him in the form of a bull and hinted that he should capture the wild goats and, more importantly the great bull of the mountains and offer them in sacrifice. "Who will melt their fat for me?" asked the god, "He should take my axe of tin, and my dagger, which is iron".
When Lugalbanda awoke, his fever had gone but the dream remained with him. As instructed in the dream, he hunted a wild bull of the mountains and offered it in sacrifce before the rising sun. The sacrifice was enough to restore Lugalbanda´s health in full measure.
Here the text breaks up, alhough a retelling of the myth suggests that he received an invaluable gift from the fierce Anzu bird, whom he had gained approval from having fed the bird´s chicks. However, Lugalbanda was indeed saved from the brink of death by the gods, who have marked him as one of their own, one of those "who have a place in Inanna´s heart... who stand in the battle."
When in ancient days heaven was separated from earth, when in ancient days that which was fitting ......, when after the ancient harvests ...... barley was eaten (?), when boundaries were laid out and borders were fixed, when boundary-stones were placed and inscribed with names, when dykes and canals were purified, when ...... wells were dug straight down; when the bed of the Euphrates, the plenteous river of Unug, was opened up, when ......, when ......, when holy An removed ......, when the offices of en and king were famously exercised at Unug, when the sceptre and staff of Kulaba were held high in battle -- in battle, Inana's game; when the black-headed were blessed with long life, in their settled ways and in their ......, when they presented the mountain goats with pounding hooves and the mountain stags beautiful with their antlers to Enmerkar son of Utu --
-- now at that time the king set his mace towards the city, Enmerkar the son of Utu prepared an ...... expedition against Aratta, the mountain of the holy divine powers. He was going to set off to destroy the rebe-l land; the lord began a mobilization of his city. The herald made the horn signal sound in all the lands. Now levied Unug took the field with the wise king, indeed levied Kulaba followed Enmerkar. Unug's levy was a flood, Kulaba's levy was a clouded sky. As they covered the ground like heavy fogs, the dense dust whirled up by them reached up to heaven. As if to rooks on the best seed, rising up, he called to the people. Each one gave his fellow the sign.
Their king went at their head, to go at the
...... of the army. Enmerkar went at their head, to go at
the ...... of the army.
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...... gu-nida emmer-grain to grow abundantly. When the righteous one who takes counsel with Enlil (i.e. Enmerkar) took away the whole of Kulaba, like sheep they bent over at the slope of the mountains, ...... at the edge of the hills they ran forward like wild bulls. He sought ...... at the side -- they recognised the way. He sought .......
five days passed. On they sixth day they bathed. ...... on the seventh day they entered the mountains. When they had crossed over on the paths -- an enormous flood billowing upstream into a lagoon ...... Their ruler (i.e. Enmerkar), riding on a storm, Utu's son, the good bright metal, stepped down from heaven to the great earth. His head shines with brilliance, the barbed arrows flash past him like lightning; the ...... of the bronze pointed axe of his emblem shines for him, it protrudes from the pointed axe for him prominently, like a dog eating a corpse.
At that time there were seven, there were seven -- the young ones, born in Kulaba, were seven. The goddess Urac had borne these seven, the Wild Cow had nourished them with milk. They were heroes, living in Sumer, they were princely in their prime. They had been brought up eating at the god An's table. These seven were the overseers for those that are subordinate to overseers, were the captains for those that are subordinate to captains were the generals for those that are subordinate to generals. They were overseers of 300 men, 300 men each; they were captains of 600 men, 600 men each; they were generals of 7 car (25,200) of soldiers, 25,200 soldiers each. They stood at the service of the lord as his élite troops.
Lugalbanda, the eighth of them, ...... was washed in water. In awed silence he went forward, ...... he marched with the troops. When they had covered half the way, covered half the way, a sickness befell him there, 'head sickness' befell him. He jerked like a snake dragged by its head with a reed; his mouth bit the dust, like a gazelle caught in a snare. No longer could his hands return the hand grip, no longer could he lift his feet high. Neither king nor contingents could help him. In the great mountains, crowded together like a dustcloud over the ground, they said: "Let them bring him to Unug". But they did not know how they could bring him. "Let them bring him to Kulaba." But they did not know how they could bring him. As his teeth chattered (?) in the cold places of the mountains, they brought him to a warm place there.
...... a storehouse, they made him an arbour like a bird's nest. ...... dates, figs and various sorts of cheese; they put sweetmeats suitable for the sick to eat, in baskets of dates, and they made him a home. They set out for him the various fats of the cowpen, the sheepfold's fresh cheese, oil with cold eggs, cold hard-boiled eggs, as if laying a table for the holy place, the valued place (i.e. as if for a funerary offering). Directly in front of the table they arranged for him beer for drinking, mixed with date syrup and rolls ...... with butter. Provisions poured into leather buckets, provisions all put into leather bags -- his brothers and friends, like a boat unloading from the harvest-place, placed stores by his head in the mountain cave. They ...... water in their leather waterskins. Dark beer, alcoholic drink, light emmer beer, wine for drinking which is pleasant to the taste, they distributed by his head in the mountain cave as on a stand for waterskins. They prepared for him incense resin, ...... resin, aromatic resin, ligidba resin and first-class resin on pot-stands in the deep hole; they suspended them by his head in the mountain cave. They pushed into place at his head his axe whose metal was tin, imported from the Zubi mountains. They wrapped up by his chest his dagger of iron imported from the Gig (Black) mountains. His eyes -- irrigation ditches, because they are flooding with water -- holy Lugalbanda kept open, directed towards this. The outer door of his lips -- overflowing like holy Utu -- he did not open to his brothers. When they lifted his neck, there was no breath there any longer. His brothers, his friends took counsel with one another:
"If our brother rises like Utu from bed, then the god who has smitten him will step aside and, when he eats this food, when he drinks (?) this, will make his feet stable. May he bring him over the high places of the mountains to brick-built Kulaba.
"But if Utu calls our brother to the holy place, the valued place (i.e. the hereafter), the health of his limbs will leave (?) him. Then it will be up to us, when we come back from Aratta, to bring our brother's body to brick-built Kulaba."
Like the dispersed holy cows of Nanna, as with a breeding bull when, in his old age, they have left him behind in the cattle pen, his brothers and friends abandoned holy Lugalbanda in the mountain cave; and with repeated tears and moaning, with tears, with lamentation, with grief and weeping, Lugalbanda's older brothers set off into the mountains.
Then two days passed during which Lugalbanda was ill; to these two days, half a day was added. As Utu turned his glance towards his home, as the animals lifted their heads toward their lairs, at the day's end in the evening cool, his body was as if anointed with oil. But he was not yet free of his sickness.
When he lifted his eyes to heaven to Utu, he wept to him as if to his own father. In the mountain cave he raised to him his fair hands:
"Utu, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Hero, Ningal's son, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Utu, you have let me come up into the mountains in the company of my brothers. In the mountain cave, the most dreadful spot on earth, let me be ill no longer! Here where there is no mother, there is no father, there is no acquaintance, no one whom I value, my mother is not here to say "Alas, my child!" My brother is not here to say "Alas, my brother!" My mother's neighbour who enters our house is not here to weep over me. If the male and female protective deities were standing by, the deity of neighbourliness would say, "A man should not perish". A lost dog is bad; a lost man is terrible. On the unknown way at the edge of the mountains, Utu, is a lost man, a man in an even more terrible situation. Don't make me flow away like water in a violent death! Don't make me eat saltpetre as if it were barley! Don't make me fall like a throwstick somewhere in the desert unknown to me! Afflicted with a name which excites my brothers' scorn, let me be ill no longer! Afflicted with the derision of my comrades, let me be ill no longer! Let me not come to an end in the mountains like a weakling!"
Utu accepted his tears. He sent down his divine encouragement to him in the mountain cave.
She who makes ...... for the poor, whose game (i.e. battle) is sweet, the prostitute who goes out to the inn, who makes the bedchamber delightful, who is food to the poor man -- Inana (i.e. the evening star), the daughter of Suen, arose before him like a bull in the Land. Her brilliance, like that of holy Cara, her stellar brightness illuminated for him the mountain cave. When he lifted his eyes upwards to Inana, he wept as if before his own father. In the mountain cave he raised to her his fair hands:
"Inana, if only
this were my home, if only this were my city! If only this were Kulaba,
the city in which my mother bore me ......! Even if it were to me as the waste
land to a snake! If it were to me as a crack in the ground to a scorpion! My
mighty people ......! My great ladies ......! ...... to E-ana!"
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"The little stones of it, the shining stones in their glory, sajkal stones above, ...... below, from its crying out in the mountain land Zabu, from its voice ...... open -- may my limbs not perish in the mountains of the cypresses!"
Inana accepted his tears. With power of life she let him go to sleep just like the sleeping Utu. Inana enveloped him with heart's joy as if with a woollen garment. Then, just as if ......, she went to brick-built Kulaba.
The bull that eats up the black soup, the astral holy bull-calf (i.e. the moon), came to watch over him. He shines (?) in the heavens like the morning star, he spreads bright light in the night. Suen, who is greeted as the new moon, father Nanna, gives the direction for the rising Utu. The glorious lord whom the crown befits, Suen, the beloved son of Enlil, the god (1 ms. has instead: the lord) reached the zenith splendidly. His brilliance like holy Cara (1 ms. has instead:Utu) (1 ms. has instead: like lapis lazuli), his starry radiance illuminated for him the mountain cave. When Lugalbanda raised his eyes to heaven to Suen, he wept to him as if to his own father. In the mountain cave he raised to him his fair hands:
"King whom one cannot reach in the distant sky! Suen, whom one cannot reach in the distant sky! King who loves justice, who hates evil! Suen, who loves justice, who hates evil! Justice brings joy justly to your heart. A poplar, a great staff, forms a sceptre for you, you who loosen the bonds of justice, who do not loosen the bonds of evil. If you encounter evil before you, it is dragged away behind ....... When your heart becomes angry, you spit your venom at evil like a snake which drools poison."
Suen accepted his tears and gave him life. He conferred on his feet the power to stand.
A second time (i.e. at the following sunrise), as the bright bull rising up from the horizon, the bull resting among the cypresses, a shield standing on the ground, watched by the assembly, a shield coming out from the treasury, watched by the young men -- the youth Utu extended his holy, shining rays down from heaven (1 ms. from Ur adds: ...... holy, his brilliance illuminated for him the mountain cave), he bestowed them on holy Lugalbanda in the mountain cave. His good protective god hovered ahead of him, his good protective goddess walked behind him. The god which had smitten him